America Self-Contained? A Symposium
U.S. Foreign Policy: In Troubling Disarray

The Obama Administration cannot escape its share of the responsibility for what has gone wrong with U.S. foreign policy. And the problem is not the policy itself, but rather its implementation.

Appeared in: Volume 9, Number 5 | Published on: April 20, 2014
Richard N. Haass is president of the Council on Foreign Relations. His most recent book is Foreign Policy Begins at Home
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  • higgins1991

    “The Obama Administration must prove to America’s allies that it is competent to lead.”

    I think I see a problem.

    • Willys

      A problem of vastly underestimated proportion.

    • rheddles

      I’d start by proving to America that it is competent to lead.

    • SClanding

      Right…….and in foreign relations the incompetent bozo does not have his most fanatical backers, the MSM ‘journalists’, to whitewash and cover for his freakups to a captive audience.

      The foreign leaders view the silliness of these ‘suicide journalists’ preaching the marvelousness of the Obamessiah in much the same way that America looked at Baghdad Bob ravings as the US Marines bored down on Baghdad.

      Of course if one remembers, MSNBC and many, many of the leftists at DailyKos and ThinkProgress ‘believed’ Baghdad Bob proclamations of pending doom for the Marines also.

    • novaculus

      That was my first thought as well. It will be nigh impossible for
      Obama’s clown posse of faculty lounge liberals and political advisers to
      formulate coherent foreign policy. They just don’t have the tools.

  • Goldenah

    This won’t be the first or last President disinterested in foreign affairs. Our country is filled with a growing diverse population of poor, unemployed, underemployed, low information voters. They couldn’t care less about leadership over the rest of the world, while things are going to hell in a hand basket at home. And our elite’s desire for open borders only exasperates the “problem”.

    • toumanbeg

      The solution to immigration is to get the State Department’s grubby little hands out of the melting pot. Create a national jobs bank that holds job listings that nobody in America is currently interested in filling. Then have employment agencies fill those positions with immigrants. Close the borders. That will add to the economy while saving money (state department pays people a lot more to issue green cards, visas, etc then the employment agencies will).
      Won’t happen because politicians want immigrants, so long as they vote for them.
      BOT, Kerry is a farce, as was Hill-de-Beast.

      • El Gringo

        What does the State Department have to do with immigration? DoS doesn’t make policy, it implements it. State doesn’t issue green cards or approve work visa petitions. You may disagree with the policies but blaming State for bad policy is like blaming the police for enforcing bad laws.

  • Fat_Man

    Mr. Haass: What was your first clue? Why did it take you 6 years to figure out that the President is inexperienced, arrogant, narcissistic, and incompetent?

  • docscience

    Seeing that the entire Obama administration is egotistical, naive, corrupt, and incompetent, proving the ability to lead is going to be a tall order, similar to taking the bus to Australia.

  • Jim__L

    “Long-promised increases in U.S. air and naval presence in the region need to become a reality.”

    The good news is, unlike Secretaries of State, if you have more aircraft carriers you can have aircraft carriers in more places. Even better news — aircraft carriers are much more effective than many Secretaries of State.

  • ErnieBanks

    This critique is a muddled mess. He starts by blaming Bush for Obama’s troubles. Really? Then he blames things like the budget sequester that have nothing to do with foreign policy. But Obama’s foreign policy is a muddled mess too. Can’t the author bring any clarity to the problem? Any at all?

    How about this: Obama says one thing and does another – sending mixed messages to everyone. It is a theme that runs through his 5 1/2 years at the helm. By doing so, he has alienated our allies, and emboldened our enemies. He lacks any fundamental understanding of foreign relations – what drives nations to act or how to work with them in a constructive manner. He has no sense of a unifying purpose or goal. The result is a disaster.

    Carter promoted human rights. George W. Bush promoted democracy and AIDS relief in Africa. Obama has promoted nothing.

    Instead of seeking personal glory with a Mideast peace settlement, Kerry needs to focus more on immediate problems and what can be done to further US interests. And Obama needs to talk less and do more. Stop whining and lead.

    • toumanbeg

      Kerry wants to run for POTUS again. HE can’t win but it would be nice if he tried. The next POTUS will have ovaries. The girls have waited and now it is their turn.
      What is ironic about that is the GOP has several excellent females that would win. But they will be blocked from the nomination by the GOP old guard.

      • Pete

        I don’t know. Looking at Kerry’s hairdo and his mannerisms, he just might have ovaries — at least figuratively speaking .

  • George Unthank

    Not military action now – anywhere . the troops are took stretched and too jaded . their fervour is further diminished by the unfortunate mal attention of the medical needs of so many wounded veterans in too many diverse ways .
    A secure energy supply line to Europe and a flooding of the markets with oil would stretch the coffers of the Kremlin very quickly.Their inherent wealth is all oil dependent . Put them onto cold turkey . the military might will soon fade as will the rippling pecks of their unwieldy leader – KGB to the hilt .
    The ME is not ready . Trade with the far east could be developed -especially of the oil industry were to lay off their enmity to the production of the electric car.
    For starters .

    • Fred

      Well, that certainly sounds like an argument for reform in the military, but not for disengagement with the world. What you isolationists can’t seem to grasp is that we can try to ignore the world, but the world will not ignore us. Do the dates December 7, 1941; November 4, 1979; and September 11, 2001 mean nothing to you?

  • GregG

    Amazing that you’re only now realizing this! You and the CFR are just useful idiots! (And you probably voted for this bozo!) Clean up your own mess!!

  • toumanbeg

    Not in defence of the Obumbler but this foreign policy is basically what the Mellinnials and Generation X want. The USA’s role as world cop is rejected by the youngsters.
    As a boomer, I can sort of see their point. Generation X has to pay for and the Mellinnials die in wars that accomplish only one thing; They make the Billionairs of the Military Industrial Complex richer.
    The idea that bombing goat herders in some 3rd world mud hole makes America safer is in5an3. No evidence to support any of the claims made for “Forward Defense”.
    The entire defence and Foreign policy industries will be examined over the next decade with the purpose of seeing how many sacred cows can be turned into shoes and purses.
    Obama is just doing what he was elected to do.

    If you really want to get the attention of Russia and China, withdraw from the NPT and sell nukes to their neighbors. That will put a hitch inn Pooties get-along.

    • Pete

      “Obama is just doing what he was elected to do.”

      Yes, but for the wrong reasons.

      BHO thinks the U.S. is bad for the world whereas patriots see the world as a pollutant to America.

    • Corlyss

      “Obama is just doing what he was elected to do.

      Disagree. He was hired to fix the economy. Americans by overwhelming majorities don’t vote on the basis of foreign policy. In fact, a friend in Philly and I are the only ones I know of who do. Americans certainly didn’t hire him to make the country a laughing stock of wrong-footedness, on-again-off-again squishiness, 360-degree “pivots,” and blustering nonsense.

      • toumanbeg

        We”ll have to agree to disagree then. His no more war pledges rang louder here in the south.
        Go BRAVES!

  • Anthony

    “U.S foreign policy is in troubling disarray.” A subject very much on discussion recently Hmmmm. WRM, Joffe, Galston, Hass, TAI’s current issue, and others have currently bandied this theme around (incoherent if not detectable U.S. foreign policy strategy, receding foreign policy aspirations, etc.). Gentlemen, can we honestly be surprised six years forward? What did Adam Garfinkle call it? A magazine writer writing about foreign policy provides excellent summation: this is no way to run a country.

  • rheddles

    Another rube self identifies.

  • Corlyss

    What makes the author conclude that the implementation is NOT the policy?

  • Boritz

    “The result is accelerated movement in the direction of a post-American world…”

    I worry about a post-Amerian world, just as I suspect that the Brits worry about a post-British world and the Greeks worry about a post-Greek world.

  • Myopic foreign policy (if there is one), clumsy administration and implementation (as if there is none). Washington has failed in its global policing, might as well just give up. Why not?

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